Teacher bitten by copperhead at Poplar Bluff school - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Teacher bitten by copperhead at Poplar Bluff school


A Poplar Bluff teacher was bitten by a copperhead when she went outside after working late in her classroom.

“Walked into the doorway, looked down, saw a copperhead,” First-grade Teacher Katelyn Campa said.

Campa is doing well. While she calls that experience very scary, she’s using to teach her students about the dangers of venomous snakes.

“Normally when you open a door, you don’t look down at your feet before you step into a doorway. It’s one of those things you don’t really think about,” Campa said.

She was working in her classroom one evening last week when she opened this side door to an unwelcome guest.

“I yelled and then he said ‘Did it bite you?’ and I said ‘Yeah it bit me.’ And he said ‘Are you sure it bit you?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I can see the puncture mark,’” Campa said.

Her friend, who was bringing her classroom supplies, took her to the hospital where she received treatment. Experts say the bite could have been worse.

“Fortunately she only got one fang in one of her toes, she didn’t get that much venom and fortunately it didn’t hit an artery,” Conservation Agent Frank Campa said.

She was back at school the next day, using the experience to teach her students to be careful when it comes to snakes.  

“I sat them down on the carpet and I said ‘Ok, what we are about to talk about is very serious. I don’t want any laughing and I want your undivided attention.” And I said ‘Last night, I got bit by a copperhead. That’s a venomous snake,’” Katelyn Campa said.

The students learned what to do if they see a snake, especially one like what bit Miss Campa.

“If you see one, just try to back away. Don’t try to pet it, touch it, anything,” First-grader Zariah said.

Katelyn Campa’s father, who is a conservation agent, says he was surprised to hear his daughter had been bitten.

“I’ve been a conservation agent for 30 years and I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve seen venomous snakes in the field,” Frank Campa said.

He says, regardless, especially kids should learn the difference in a good snake and a bad snake and to stay away.

“Run away,” Zariah said.

“And tell an adult,” Mason, another student, said.  

School officials have placed mothballs around the premises of the school, those can actually detour snakes. Maintenance workers are also keeping an extra close eye out for snakes. Also, the module buildings on campus will be moved by next year and replaced with new construction.

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